Oregon St. track and field coach Kelly Sullivan doesn't have even his new track yet (the new Pac-12 media deal should help here as well), but he's continuing to put men's track and field back on the map, with the help of the football program. Last year, Jordan Bishop became the first Beaver to score points at the NCAA national meet since the program was disbanded, and this week, Oregon St. looks to get back onto the national scene with successful efforts at the Pac-10 Championships at the University of Arizona in Tucson.
Bishop is still recovering from an ankle injury in January, but 3 members of football coach Mike Riley's team will accompany 9 women competing in distance events and the high jump on this weeks trip.
Gwachum will try to clear 7'1" in the high jump, a height he reached in high school in British Columbia and last year, which would also qualify him for the NCAA West Regionals in 2 weeks at Hayward Field on the University of Oregon campus in Eugene.
"He's carrying about 12 more pounds of muscle," Sullivan said of the bulking up for football Gwachum has done. "You want to be strong and powerful, but but you also want to be a little light for the high jump. I've been really impressed with how he's looked."
Gwachum won the high jump in last week's Oregon Twilight meet, clearing 6'10.25".
Gwachum has also qualified for the triple jump, but has little meet experience in that event, and will be a meet-day decision in that event.
"I'm expecting to do it," Gwachum said "I think they will let me do it because the events are on different days. I really don't have much to lose; I'm looking forward to it."
Sullivan has said he is always very, very careful with Riley's players, not wanting to get then injured.
Wheaton and Parker will both compete in the 100 meters, and are looking to improve on their performances last weekend at the Oregon Twilight meet, the only other outdoor event they have participated in.
Wheaton beat Oregon's La Michael James, a regular member of the Oregon Track team as well as the Pac-10's premier running back, by one onehundredth of a second at the Twilight meet, posting a mark of 10.75.
Wheaton and Parker will be up against a deep field of sprint specialists in Tucson.
"There are a lot of good sprinters in the conference this year," Sullivan explained. "To make it to the final - for either one of them - they'll need everything to be firing on every cylinder. But they are really confident, and they love sprinting."